The Amps of K-ON!


While K-ON! has proven to be a typical moe show in every sense of the word, one aspect of it that continues to surprise me is the product placement. An article on Sankaku Complex a while back showed that the tea sets used by the characters are all expensive, brand name goods. The fact that the instruments they use are also brand name has sent otaku into a guitar buying frenzy although most of them will probably never learn how to play, and most of them are probably not left handed. In episode 4, I also noticed that all the amps they use are also brand name. I find this very surprising as product placement in anime was nonexistent until very recently. I remember the shitstorm around Code Geass when it was revealed that Pizza Hut would be prominently displayed.


The most surprising part about K-ON!’s product placement is the variety. Being able to get permission from Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, KORG, Marshall, Peavey, and VOX to use their products in their show must not have been easy to do. For example, Metalocalypse only gets product placement from Gibson, Line 6, and KRANK, and they’re made by an American studio. The fact that a Japanese studio was able to get permission from so many American companies is very surprising. It seems to be paying off for Fender to say the least, as they’ve already mentioned K-ON! on their Japanese blog. I doubt Gibson will see much of an increase in sales from K-ON! due to their higher price tag, especially in Japan, and Yui being overshadowed by the much more popular and superior Mio.


That’s all for now. I doubt I will write episode reviews for a while, as I’ve already said everything I want to say about them for the most part, except for Cross Game, which is surprisingly good. Exams are looming around the corner for me, so I will probably be busy with those as well. Until next time.


15 Responses to “The Amps of K-ON!”

  1. But Mio’s bass is quite ugly, to be honest.

  2. I have that very same Marshall practice amp save I’m missing a few watts and an equalizer.

    But their equipment is fairly disappointing. Those amps can’t be more than 30W strong and they’ll get completely overpowered by Ritsu’s drum. Considering Tsumugi’s vast wealth, you would think that she could afford some decent stacks.

    That aside, those brands aren’t as strong in Japan so I would think it’d be easier to display them in that region.

    • djwhack03 Says:

      I guess I’m more surprised by the quantity of brands than anything, but it makes sense that they should be easier to show in Japan due to less popularity.

  3. maybe that’s my vox amp….looks like a da15 or a pathfinder, which are both only 15 W, so yeah, like jp_zer0 said…

    • djwhack03 Says:

      I think the Vox is a Valvetronix based on the mesh in front of the speaker. Although I can’t tell how many watts it is, but they can go up to 100W so maybe their equipment isn’t that bad.

  4. Roy Mustang Says:

    Being able to get permission from Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, KORG, Marshall, Peavey, and VOX to use their products in their show must not have been easy to do

    Remember the first promotional poster of K-ON featuring Yui? Nobody can say ‘No’ to that level of cuteness.

  5. Well because guitars are constructed in Japan, there might be a Japanese-based corporation line (or whatever) in Japan, and so that would really facilitate this kind of promotion. But I don’t know, omo would probably know more about that than me.

    • djwhack03 Says:

      As far as I know, Gibsons are not made in Japan, nor have they ever been. I could be wrong though.

    • No, I do not know more about this.

      What I can say for sure isn’t much. But I can do my best Ask John impression:

      [TL;DR answer: K-ON doesn’t get money for the name drops, Code Geass and Metalocalypse do. This is a general rule of thumb in anime I think, that shows with a ton of name drops generally do it for free.]

      [Also, most of the below should not be taken as serious info. It’s at best an educated guess.]

      As a general rule, just because a certain thing appears in association with an anime or manga, it doesn’t mean direct endorsement. In the Code Geass/Pizza Hut case, that is a classic example of product placement which means a type of in-show advertising where Pizza Hut pays Sunrise for the nod. Notably, one way to see this is that pizza has very little to do with the concept of Code Geass. I use the word concept here loosely to refer to what the heck Code Geass is as a package, in terms of content.

      On the other hand, big musical instruments brands like Fender, Gibson, Yamaha etc are not going to make a huge deal if your [insert legit band]’s concert video has stuff with their names on it. Invariably when you have a rock concert, you’ll have instruments and amps with names on them. (Imagine an alternate reality where all rock bands are not allowed to show brand tags on their videos…) The industry practice, AFAIK, regarding those is much more loose. People don’t really give a flying damn if you’re using an amp from Marshall or Line 6, unless you’re Trent Reznor or something. It’s kind of just because it’s there, and there is really no good way to get around it (“lol let’s duct tape all our amps so the logo doesn’t show”). The standard practice is to just let it go. These companies have better things to do than to police name drops from every video produced by every silly keion club in Japan, let alone the rest of the world. It’s just something they don’t care that much about.

      Compared to, say, how MTV has to censor the Nike swoosh or whatever in their realty TV shows. This is done mainly because some of the programs are kind of naughty and MTV is in a strange relationship with all those pop brands, as they do take money for product placement so they can’t just give tie-ins away for free all the time.

      The rules are fuzzier when it comes to fictional works, and in Japan generally they change the names around (pohky, Sudobucks, WcD, etc) if anything, just out of respect. This is also very different than the typical American practice AFAIK, which tend to stick to reality first and wait for the lawyers second.

      Metalocalypse is different than K-ON in three ways. First, it’s American, that means no “Gibzon” or “Femder.” Second, it is a Simpson-esqe parody (well, just like DMC to be exact) in which the association with these instruments are of dubious value. But most importantly, Metalocalypse actually is an ad for the brands it endorses, from what I can tell, so CN gets $$$ for it. I do not think K-ON gets any money from any of the brands that made an appearance in the show.

      Now if K-ON was not about keon clubs but about cooking, then the use of Fender, Gibson, etc. might be more problematic. Or if TMA decided to make a cosplay porno of “Mion” spending quality time with her lefty bass guitar and amp… You get the idea.

      • djwhack03 Says:

        Thanks for the long reply! It’s actually almost twice as long as my original post lol. In any case, this really clarified things. Thanks a lot.

      • LOL. Sorry for the LONG comment. It’s a funny issue to frame the right way so to get the right approach, and I had to look up a couple things really fast.

        Anyways, you’re welcome and good post to bring out the issue with them big band names.

  6. Oh, before I distracted myself, I want to also note that the size of the amps (physical and wattage) reflects the nature of amateur Japanese rock bands and their inability to rock out due to high pop density and cultural politeness. Fully expect the kids to rock out in a sound booth ala BECK style, hopefully soon.

  7. […] since K-ON! has done it’s fair share of instrumental endorsements such as the guitars and amps, should it try to make a milk the cash cow further by endorsing other merchandise. Not everyone who […]

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